Rare Book Gallery
THE BIRDS OF AMERICA
Audubon, John James:
Bookseller: William Reese Company - Americana
New York & Amsterdam: Printed in Holland for the Johnson Reprint Corporation and Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, 1971-1972.. Four volumes. Limitation... More
New York & Amsterdam: Printed in Holland for the Johnson Reprint Corporation and Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, 1971-1972.. Four volumes. Limitation leaf printed recto only in black, 4 general titles, 4 volume titles, 4 printed facsimiles of the original titles. 435 plates, printed in up to eight colors, after John James Audubon. Double elephant folio. Original brown half calf over green cloth-covered boards, upper covers with inset brown in calf panel lettered in gilt with author and title, the flat spines lettered in gilt with author, title and volume number. Leather somewhat scuffed, internally fine. The "Amsterdam Audubon" was limited to only 250 copies. A viable alternative to the original Havell edition, and one of only two full-size facsimile editions of the complete work ever published. In October 1971, employing the most faithful printing method available, the best materials and the ablest craftsmen of their age, the Amsterdam firm of Theatrum Orbis Terrarum Ltd., in conjunction with the Johnson Reprint Corporation of New York, set out to produce the finest possible limited edition facsimile of the greatest bird book ever printed: the Havell edition of John James Audubon's well-loved BIRDS OF AMERICA. The Teyler Museum in Haarlem, Holland made their copy of the original work available for use as a model. The Museum had bought their copy through Audubon's son as part of the original subscription in 1839. After long deliberation, the extremely complex but highly accurate process of color photo-lithography was chosen as the most appropriate printing method. The best exponents of this art were the renowned Dutch printing firm of NV Fotolitho Inrichting Drommel at Zandvoort who were willing to undertake the task of printing each plate in up to eight different colors. The original Havell edition was published on handmade rag paper and the publishers were determined that the paper of their edition should match the original. Unhappy with the commercially available papers, they turned to the traditional paper manufacturers G. Schut & Zonen (founded in 1625), who, using 100% unbleached cotton rags, were able to produce a wove paper of the highest quality, with each sheet bearing a watermark unique to the edition: G. Schut & Zonen [JR monogram] Audubon [OT monogram]. The publishers and their dedicated team completed their task late in 1972 and the results of these labors became known as the "Amsterdam Audubon." 250 copies were published and sold by subscription, with the plates available bound or unbound. Given all this careful preparation, it is not surprising that the prints have the look and feel of the original Havell edition. The Havell edition was expensive at the time of publication and this has not changed. The last complete copy to appear on the market sold for more than $10,000,000 in London in 2010, and the increasingly rare individual plates from this edition, when they do appear, generally sell for between $2,500 and $150,000 depending on the image. The quality of the Amsterdam Audubon plates is apparent to any discerning collector and it is becoming ever clearer that they offer the most attractive alternative to the Havell edition plates, given the latter's spiraling prices. The idea for his great work came to Audubon after his meeting with the distinguished ornithologist Alexander Wilson at Louisville in 1810, but it was not until 1826 that he felt ready to set sail for England in search of a publisher. In the intervening sixteen years he had time both to perfect his style of drawing from specimens mounted on wires as an aid to composition, to assemble a remarkable portfolio of drawings, and, perhaps most importantly, to develop the single-minded determination that was to be so essential in his efforts to realize his ambition. John James Audubon, the illegitimate son of French sea captain Jean Audubon and Mlle Jeannne Rabin, his Creole mistress, was born in Les Cayes, Santo Domingo on April 26, 1785. His mother died soon after his birth and in 1791, Audubon was brought back to France to live at Nantes under the care of his father's wife, Anne Moynet. The arrangement was evidently a happy one, and both Audubon and his half-sister (Jean's illegitimate daughter by another mistress) were legally adopted in 1794. Audubon later wrote that he quickly came to both love and admire his adopted mother, though her indulgence of his preference for exploring the surrounding countryside to attending to his schoolwork, was perhaps largely responsible for his lack of formal education. Audubon's first arrival in America was in 1803, when, following the loss of the family's fortune in Santo Domingo, his father dispatched him to eastern Pennsylvania. He was to stay with a Quaker lawyer, Miers Fisher, who had been acting as Audubon senior's business agent, and represent the family's interests in the development of the lead deposits which had been found on Mill Grove (a farm near Philadelphia, which had been bought, sight unseen, by Audubon's father). It was here that his early interest in drawing bird specimens grew, and here that he met and married (in 1808) Lucy Bakewell, the daughter of a neighbor. They set up home firstly in Louisville, and later Henderson, Kentucky. The new species of birds to be found in the virgin wilderness of Kentucky supplied Audubon with a large number of subjects to both draw and hunt, and allowed him to develop the lifelike action-packed ornithological images that were to become the hallmark of his work. Following his bankruptcy in 1820, Audubon decided to concentrate on his painting, and he set out for Louisiana with the intention of adding to the tally of species captured in his portfolio. During this period he worked as a traveling artist and drawing instructor, drawing birds from Mississippi as well as Louisiana and eventually settling with Lucy near New Orleans at a plantation called Bayou Sara. By 1824 Audubon's plans for THE BIRDS OF AMERICA were coalescing. The work was to be issued in eighty parts of five plates per part, for a total of 400 plates (this was finally expanded to 435 showing some 1,065 different species in eighty-seven parts) on large format paper: this was dictated by Audubon's determination that all the known species were to be shown, and that they should all be life-size. After unsuccessful attempts to get the work published in both Philadelphia and New York, in became clear that the only hope of publication lay in Europe, and Audubon sailed for England in 1826. In England Audubon arranged a number of successful exhibitions of his drawings, where the "dramatic impact of his ambitious, complex pictures and a romantic image as 'the American woodsman' secured Audubon entry into a scientific community much preoccupied with little-known lands." Amongst the friends he made from this community, were William Swainson, a gifted ornithologist, who taught Audubon the niceties of technical ornithology, William MacGillivray, a brilliant Scottish naturalist-anatomist, who, later, was to contribute to and edit Audubon's ORNITHOLOGICAL BIOGRAPHY, and Patrick Neill, printer and zoologist, who recommended William Home Lizars of Edinburgh as an engraver who would do justice to Audubon's work. Lizars was so impressed with Audubon's work that he agreed to put aside the work he was doing for Prideaux John Selby and Sir William Jardine, Britain's foremost ornithologists of the time, and concentrate on the engraving and printing of Audubon's subjects. Lizars' involvement in the project began in 1827, but turned out to be short-lived: after producing only ten plates, all of which are represented in the present selection, Lizars' colorists went on strike and Audubon was forced to find another engraver. This setback proved to be only temporary, however, and Audubon quickly established an excellent working and personal relationship with both Robert Havell, senior, and his son, Robert Havell, junior. Havell senior died in 1832, but between 1828 and 1838 Havell junior was involved as engraver (or in the case of the Havell plates as re-toucher) of all 425 of the images that go to make up the highest achievement of ornithological art and the greatest of all bird books. Less
Price: 80000.00 USD
An album of original watercolour...
GREIN (artist, Dutch/Flemish school, 17th century)
Bookseller: Donald Heald Rare Books
[Holland: seventeenth century]. Folio. (12 1/2 x 8 inches). 48 watercolours of tulips on vellum, interleaved with plain paper with horn and crown... More
[Holland: seventeenth century]. Folio. (12 1/2 x 8 inches). 48 watercolours of tulips on vellum, interleaved with plain paper with horn and crown watermark, each watercolour titled in ink below image, the first watercolour signed "Grein" at the lower right. Contemporary vellum over pasteboard, contained in a modern dark green morocco box, the covers with gilt-ruled borders, the spine in six compartments with raised bands, lettered in the second, the others with elaborate repeat pattern made up from flower-sprays and various small tools. A spectacular album containing finely-executed images on vellum of all the greatest 17th century varieties of tulips: a landmark in the history of botanical art in the Low Countries, and a unique record of the bulbs that inspired the speculative financial-madness called Tulipomania. The tulip, introduced to Europe in the middle of the sixteenth century from the Ottoman Empire, experienced a strong growth in popularity boosted by competition among the wealthy for possession of the rarest varieties. The tulip rapidly became a coveted luxury item, appearing in main-stream art as a symbol of wealth and as a decorative motif on ceramics and textiles. Special varieties were given exotic names or named after popular figures of the time: generals, admirals, etc. The most spectacular and highly sought-after tulips were the so-called "broken" varieties. These had two or more vivid colours: often a base colour of white or cream with red lines, or flames to the petals. The present album is devoted exclusively to these most expensive varieties. Tulipomania eventually reached a level where fantastic, unsustainable prices were being paid for individual bulbs. In 1637, the bubble burst and the over-heated market collapsed. For some years after this, the tulip's popularity remained at a low level but by the time the present album was produced its unique beauty was beginning once again to be appreciated. Tulip albums were produced for two principle reasons. First, as a selling tool for the bulb dealers: accurate images of what the bulbs they were offering were going to look like were obviously vital and the high prices of the tulipomania era set a precedent of employing artists of a very high quality to record the colours and details of the bulbs. These albums are almost exclusively made up of drawings on paper. One of the best known examples of this type of album is probably the 1637 tulip book of P. Cos, a nurseryman from Haarlem, Holland (now in the collection of the Wageningen Universiteit en Researchcentrum). Second, albums were produced as a collective record of the ephemeral beauty of the blooms grown by individuals, either professional growers or wealthy amateurs. The present album probably falls into this latter category: the original presentation of this album is on a much more luxurious scale than trade albums. The most obvious sign of this is the fact that each of the drawings is on vellum. Vellum, especially the prepared vellum used for the present album, was an expensive luxury material and an indicator that the drawings were commissioned by a wealthy individual (in France, for instance, King Louis XIV had all his botanical drawings executed on vellum: the so-called "velins du Roi"). Tulip albums, whatever their origin, are now very rare: according to Sam Segal (a world-renowned expert on tulips and the author of "Tulips in Visual Art",) there are now only about 50 of these albums extant. This includes albums with drawings on paper and also 18th century albums; thus, the actual number of seventeenth century albums with drawings on vellum is almost certainly no more than a handful. Most albums are in institutional collections, so the present album may well be the final example offered on the open market. Sam Segal offered the following information about the present album: the artist "Grein" is an unrecorded artist, but his name "is a Dutch name known since the early seventeenth century." The paper used for the interleaves is watermarked with a horn and crown, similar to paper known to have been made in Amsterdam and Leiden from 1665. The tulip types are from this period as well, before a relative great change in form and size during the eighteenth century. The flowers themselves carry names that "are known from the 1630s and 1640s, the period of and directly after the tulipomania ...they include the very expensive types of that period, like the 'Semper Augustus' and 'Viceroy.' As in many tulip books meant as a catalogue of a seller of bulbs, the illustrations show many related types. That might mean that they are tulips from one nursery or one collection from which the owner gave an order to the artist to paint his collection. The names of some of the tulips could point to a possible commissioner of the album, like 'General Doriszlav' and 'Grootvorst van Moscovicz.'" Dash,Tulipomania , London, 1999; Goldgar,Tulipomania , Chicago, 2007; Pavord,The Tulip,London, 1999; van der Goes (editor) Tulipomanie, Zwolle/Dresden, 2004; Wijnands,Tulips portrayed, Wageningen, 1987. Less
Price: 225000.00 USD
Discours Admirables, de la Nature des...
Bookseller: Jonathan A. Hill, Bookseller, Inc.
8 p.l., 361,  pp. Small 8vo, cont. flexible vellum, ties gone. Paris: Martin le Jeune, 1580. First edition, and a splendid pure copy in its... More
8 p.l., 361,  pp. Small 8vo, cont. flexible vellum, ties gone. Paris: Martin le Jeune, 1580. First edition, and a splendid pure copy in its first binding, of a rare and important book in the history of chemistry, hydrology, geology, agriculture, etc., etc. Palissy (ca. 1509-89), who is best known for his discovery of the secret of enamelling pottery, was far in advance of his time in scientific ideas. The "Discours admirables, probably incorporates Palissy's Paris lectures. It...deals with an impressive array of subjects: agriculture, alchemy, botany, ceramics, embalming, engineering, geology, hydrology, medicine, metallurgy, meteorology, mineralogy, paleontology, philosophy, physics, toxicology, and zoology. The book is divided into several chapters, the first and longest of which is concerned with water. The others take up metals and their nature and generation; drugs; ice; different types of salts and their nature, effects, and methods of generation; characteristics of common and precious stones; clay and marl; and the potter's art... "Palissy's views on hydrology and paleontology, as expressed in the Discours, are of particular interest. He was one of the few men of his century to have a correct notion of the origins of rivers and streams, and he stated it forcefully, denying categorically that rivers can have any source other than rainfall... "Palissy discussed fossils extensively...[He] held other advanced views. From experimentation he concluded that all minerals with geometric crystal forms must have crystallized in water; his classification of salts was nearly correct; and he suggested the concept of superposition for the development of sedimentary rocks... "Palissy was probably one of the first men in France to teach natural sciences from facts, specimens and demonstrations rather than hypotheses."-D.S.B., X, pp. 280-81. In the eighth section, Palissy investigated the hardness and properties of gems and precious stones. The Discours was written in the form of a dialogue between "Theory" and "Practice" and it is always "Practice" that instructs "Theory." A fine copy in its first binding, preserved in a box. Contemporary signature on title of "G. Passart" (maybe) and with a number of knowledgeable contemporary notes in many margins. This book is extremely rare; Ferguson acquired his copy, now in the University of Glasgow, after years of searching and has written on the flyleaf: "At last, after long, long waiting and watching." It is one of the very few books in Denis Duveen's collection of which he reproduced the title-page in his Bibliotheca Alchemica et Chemica. ❧ Adams, The Birth and Development of the Geological Sciences, pp. 90, 261, & 446-48. Brunet, IV, 319-20 & Suppl., II, 133-"une pi? aussi int?ssante que rare." Duveen, p. 446-"A book of great importance in the history of chemistry and science generally." Geikie, The Founders of Geology, pp. 104 & 118. Hoover 621. Partington, II, pp. 69-77. Zittel, pp. 18 & 132. . Less
Price: 75000.00 USD